(Ὀρέστης). (1) The son of Agamemnon and Clytaemnestra. On the assassination of Agamemnon, Orestes, then quite young, was saved from his father's fate by his sister Electra, who had him removed to the court of their uncle Strophius, king of Phocis. There he formed an intimate friendship with Pylades, the son of Strophius, and with him concerted the means, which he successfully adopted, of avenging his father's death by slaying his mother and Aegisthus. (See [ERROR: no link cross:]Aegisthus; [ERROR: no link cross:]Clytaemnestra.) After the murder of Clytaemnestra, the Furies drove Orestes into insanity; and when the oracle at Delphi was consulted respecting the duration of his malady, an answer was given that Orestes would not be restored to a sane mind until he went to the Tauric Chersonesus, and brought away from that quarter the statue of Artemis to Argos. It was the custom in Taurica to sacrifice all strangers to this goddess, and Orestes and Pylades, having made the journey together, and having both been taken captive, were brought as victims to the altar of Artemis. Iphigenia, the sister of Orestes, who had been carried off by Artemis from Aulis when on the point of being immolated (see [ERROR: no link cross:]Aulis; [ERROR: no link cross:]Iphigenia), was the priestess of the goddess among the Tauri. Perceiving the strangers to be Greeks, she offered to spare the life of one of them, provided he would carry a letter from her to Greece. This occasioned a memorable contest of friendship between them, which should sacrifice himself for the other, and it ended in Pylades' yielding to Orestes and agreeing to be the bearer of the letter. The letter was for Orestes, and a discovery was the consequence. Iphigenia, thereupon, on learning
Such is the ordinary form of the legend of Orestes. The tragic writers, of course, introduced many variations. Thus it is said that when the Furies of his mother persecuted him, he fled to Delphi, whose god had urged him to commit the deed, and thence went to Athens, where he was acquitted by the court of Areopagus. Orestes had by Hermioné two sons, Tisamenus and Penthilus, who were driven from their country by the Heraclidae.
(2) A Pannonian who acted as regent of Italy during the short reign of his infant son Romulus Augustulus, in favour of whom he had deposed the emperor Iulius Nepos (A.D. 475). In the following year he was defeated and put to death by Odoacer, king of the Heruli. See [ERROR: no link cross:]Augustulus; crossOdoacer.
Harry Thurston Peck , Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities (Trustees of Tufts University, New York) [word count] [harpers_cls_ant15].